The days have grown shorter, the nights colder and the fantastic colors of the New Hampshire’s fall foliage will soon give way to winter!
Which means it’s time to take a look at what lies ahead for physicians.
Soon it will be time to say goodbye to 2017 and hello to a new year. With that in mind, take a look at these five things every physician should know before 2018:
The nation’s physician shortage has been well-documented. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, population growth, the increase in the number of aging Americans and retiring physicians will leave the country 100,000 physicians short by 2030.
While this is certainly alarming news for the nation, it does present an opportunity for physicians in search of new opportunities. Those who are interested should have no trouble finding hospital and healthcare systems interested in their services.
Bureaucratic tasks, too many hours at work, feeling unappreciated and the computerization of practice. These are the top four reasons physicians feel burned out, according to a Medscape survey of more than 14,000 physicians.
The survey found that the percentage of physicians who say they’re feeling burned out is steadily increasing. Being aware of the signs of burnout, seeking employment with an organization that values work-life balance and asking for help are some of the keys to preventing it.
The healthcare industry is constantly changes. New technology, payment models, leaders, and approaches to care delivery can make it seem like change is the only constant in the industry.
It also proves the old axiom: The more things change, the more things stay the same.
People still consider medical doctors to be among the most trustworthy professionals in the country, according to a survey conducted by Gallup. This is an important fact to keep in mind as you work through all of the change that consistently seems to occur in the industry.
Here are some facts and figures provided by “Hospital and Health Networks” that reaffirm the need for care coordination:
With more aging patients, more diverse patient populations and more pressure to improving outcomes at lower costs, physicians working at hospitals that embrace care coordination are likely to experience more success.
This has been a monumental year for physicians in the United States. As first reported by “Modern Healthcare,” 2017 marked the first time in U.S. history that less than half of all practicing physicians owned their medical practices.
It seems that physicians are moving en mass toward larger practices–and this is a trend that shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Apparently, compliance costs, new payment models and the stress of owning and operating a practice has become too much for many physicians to take on.
The good news is that there are many healthcare systems searching for talented providers who want to focus on patient care rather.
If you’re interested in joining the ranks of those who’ve made the shift to larger practices, connect with Elliot Health System today! You’ll be sure to have the resources you need to succeed.
What matters most to you?
Is it compensation? Maybe you’re most interested in clinical excellence? Perhaps it’s patient outcomes?
All play a role in your ability to build a career that is as long-lasting as it is rewarding–but they might not be as important as the hospital community in which you work.
That’s right, where you work matters at least as much as how much you make, how well you perform, and whether or not patients achieve the best possible outcomes.
If this sounds far-fetched, consider the study conducted by Press Ganey on the influence of nurses’ work environments on patients, payments, and nurses themselves.
It found that work environment–the hospital community in which the nurses worked–played the largest role in overall job satisfaction.
And the study included employees and outcome data from 2,000 hospitals across the country.
Yes, the hospital community in which you spend eight, 10, 12 or more hours a day for days on end plays a big role in determining whether or not you are a shining star throughout your career or one that eventually burns out.
Obviously you want to work in a healthy hospital environment. Here are six key characteristics of a healthy hospital community:
Communication is critically important. When it’s effectively executed at an organizational, everyone is aware of the hospital’s values, goals, and challenges.
On the unit level, effective communication is every bit as important as clinical outcomes. In fact, effective communication can improve clinical outcomes.
Collaboration–true collaboration in which relationships are treated as genuine partnerships–allows physicians to bond, grow professionally, and improve outcomes for patients.
It ensures that no one feels as if they are an island, isolated from the rest of team, left to fend for her- or himself.
Is there anything worse for a physician than working in an environment where decisive decisions are the exception rather than the rule?
No there is not.
Effective decision making means that decisions are made collaboratively, with an understanding about how they will affect those at every level of the organization. They are clearly communicated. And they are carried out with consistency.
Any physician who has ever worked on an understaffed unit knows how important appropriate staffing is to the unit’s ability to achieve the best possible outcomes for patients without putting the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of hospital staff in jeopardy.
Inadequate staffing often leads to unnecessary stress, which can lead to physician burnout.
Everyone wants to be recognized for the contributions she or he makes to the organization. In fact, research has shown that being recognized for a job well done could be the difference between job satisfaction and becoming disgruntled.
You may not want to publicly acknowledge the desire for recognition, and that’s perfectly fine. But internally, it’s important to be aware of the important role authentic recognition plays in keeping you satisfied at work–and then finding a hospital community that demonstrates its appreciation for its employees.
The relationship between effective, authentic leadership and a healthcare system’s ability to provide safe and effective care has been well-documented.
It also matters to you.
Lack of leadership creates an environment that doesn’t value communication or true collaboration. You may find yourself waiting for important decisions to be made. You may discover that a lack of adequate staffing and a dearth of recognition have you on the verge of burning out.
At that point, your compensation will no longer matter, clinical excellence won’t be achievable and patient outcomes will suffer–and so will your career.
Just three years ago, nurses, pharmacists and medical doctors topped the list of the most trusted professionals in the country, according to a survey conducted by Gallup.
Today, after sweeping healthcare reform has been enacted, office visits have become shorter and less personal, and people are being asked to take more responsibility for their health, trust is eroding.
It seems the problem may be related to communication.
Americans who once enjoyed low co-pays and bedside exams are now feeling more like metrics to be measured against the bottom line. They don’t understand why this is happening, but it’s clear who they blame: physicians.
Physicians, too, have experienced the changes–and they’re not always happy with them, either. Sadly, they rarely share their feelings with patients.
So maybe it’s time to clear the air and allow doctors to clear up some misconceptions. Here is a look at what physicians want their patients to know (but haven’t had the chance to tell them):
Physicians Want More Time with Patients
It is a fact of life that time is money. That’s why exams have gotten shorter. Due to declining reimbursements, physicians are forced to see more patients and perform more procedures.
Most doctors don’t like the shorter exams any more than their patients. In fact, many feel like they could significantly improve outcomes if insurance companies would simply pay for longer exams.
When it comes to what physicians want their patients to know, continuity often tops the list.
Some people take better care of their vehicles than they do themselves. Seeing your doctor on a regular basis is at least as important as getting an oil change every 3,000 miles.
Physicians can only help their patients enjoy the best possible health if they have a long-term relationship with one another. Research has shown that patients who rarely see their doctors or switch doctors frequently experience significantly more health problems than those who have regular visits with one general practitioner.
Your Opinion Matters
There seems to be a feeling among patients that their doctors know everything. The truth is, doctors need patients to play an active role in their health.
Physicians find it incredibly helpful when their patients ask questions, share information honestly and even disagree. At the end of the day, patients and physicians need to work together to achieve the best possible outcomes–and that can only happen if patients are actively engaged in the process.
Take Your Medicine
It seems like it should go without saying, but it is a commonly noted when the topic of what physicians want their patients to know comes up: Patients need to take their medicine.
Doctors prescribe medicine for specific reasons. If patients don’t take their medicines as prescribed, it significantly diminishes the likelihood of a condition improving.
It also complicates your physician’s job, because she or he will not know whether or not the medication was effective. This not only increases patient discomfort, but it unnecessarily increases the cost of care.
Don’t Rely on the Internet
The proliferation of websites devoted to providing information about health problems has led to people self-diagnosing. This can be problematic for physicians because it ultimately leads to people starting treatments recommended online. Often, these treatments are ineffective and can actually cause the real problem to go untreated, get worse or cause other health issues.
What Physicians Want Their Patients to Know
Patients need to trust their doctors, and doctors need to trust their patients. Maybe if everyone starts communicating openly, honestly and regularly, doctors can once again top the list of the most trusted professionals in the country.
Elliot Health System is proud of our trustworthy physicians. Would you like to join us?
Is the physical exam dead?
Clinical observation has been part of medicine for thousands of years, ever since Babylonian, Chinese and Indian physicians first examined bodies. Lately, however, the practice has become a rarity as technology has enhanced physicians’ ability to see and hear things that were previously hidden.
But that doesn’t mean bedside medicine should be put to sleep.
The value of the bedside exam
While advancements in medical technology have improved doctors’ ability to diagnose and treat certain illnesses, they have their limitations.
CT scans and X-rays can’t feel where an abdomen is tender. They can’t perceive pained facial expressions when a particular area of a patient’s body is touched. And they can’t ask questions about a patient’s diet, physical activities and lifestyle.
These factors can often only be examined and evaluated by a physician who understands and values bedside medicine. In fact, an effective bedside exam actually allows physicians to make better use of technology. Doctors who are skilled at bedside exams are often able to gather more and better information about their patients’ conditions, allowing for more selective use of medical technology.
Unfortunately, the financial realities of the healthcare industry have pushed bedside medicine to the wayside.
From the bedside to conference tables
The end of bedside medicine as a common practice can almost certainly be linked to the push for greater efficiency.
There used to be an expectation–from patients as well as insurance companies–that doctors would spend quality time with their patients. It was, after all, the way medicine had been practiced for centuries. Physicians were trusted to take the time necessary to get to know their patients and make the best possible decisions.
Then the bottom line got in the way.
Insurance companies called for greater efficiency. Physicians were pressured to keep exams brief, see more patients and shorten hospital stays–all in the name of decreasing costs and increasing revenues.
Hospitals, too, played a role in moving doctors away from the bedside and into the conference room. After all, it’s much more efficient for physicians to meet and discuss patient care and make treatment decisions around a conference table than it is to have them doing it during rounds.
Reviving bedside medicine
There is no question that the dizzying array of high-tech, sophisticated and expensive tools and tests has put bedside medicine on the ropes and some patients have suffered as a result.
A simple search of the Internet reveals many documented cases of patients whose conditions went untreated for long periods of time because doctors were led down the wrong diagnostic road due to their reliance on technology.
These cases, along with calls for patients to spend more time with their doctors, are reviving the lost art of bedside medicine. It could be considered a move away from high-tech and back to high-touch medicine.
Medical schools and teaching hospitals are working to help aspiring physicians understand both the value of bedside exams as well as how to perform them.
They’re getting back to the basics, which include:
The goal is to ensure that doctors rely less on technology and more on their ability to walk down the hall, evaluate a patient and then use the right tools at the right time–for the right reasons.
Elliot Health System cares about their physicians and the patients they treat. Explore the career possibilities we can offer you today.
Who cares for the caregivers?
That’s the question many in the healthcare industry are asking in response to a recent study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund and the Kaiser Family Foundation that shows that 47 percent of physicians have considered retiring early. This might not be so alarming if the reasons for early retirement included fulfilled goals and financial health. Sadly, those aren’t the reasons nearly half of all doctors have at least contemplated getting out of the profession.
Instead, the reason most commonly cited is dissatisfaction with the current state of the modern healthcare industry. Slow Medicaid and Medicare payments, bureaucratic red tape, unyielding reliance on quality metrics to assess performance and seemingly arbitrary financial penalties for missing metrics have physicians feeling less engaged. This is a scary prospect for physicians, healthcare organizations and patients alike. Keeping physicians engaged is critically important to patient outcomes, an organization’s culture and overall financial performance, and the doctor’s own health.
Here is a look at how some healthcare companies are keeping physicians engaged:
In most physicians’ minds, volume should not equal value. While financial incentives are important and effective ways to remove barriers to physician engagement, they need to be clear, concise and easily understood. However, they cannot be tied to productivity, which conflicts with value-based health care. Instead, financial incentives and compensation models should be designed to promote patient satisfaction and the best possible outcomes. When physicians feel they will be rewarded for taking time to connect with patients and deliver improved outcomes–which is why many become doctors in the first place–they are likely to be much more engaged.
It is difficult to disengage when you are part of an organization’s leadership team. Keeping physicians engaged and developing leaders go hand in hand. Everyone wants to be considered an important part of their employer’s future. It’s when they don’t feel valued or that they play a role in helping the organization move forward that they disengage.
Keeping physicians engaged through leadership development can be as easy as developing a model for joint decision making among physicians and administrators, providing governance roles for physicians and offering formal leadership development opportunities for physicians.
Another way to keep physicians engaged? Give them ownership opportunities.
By their very nature, physicians have difficulty when it comes to delegating. Often, they are expected to–and expect to–dictate every aspect of their offices. However, smart doctors and organizations hire smart staff members–and those employees should be trained and trusted to do the jobs for which they were hired. Of course, this only works if staffing levels are at appropriate levels, so proper staffing is critical to keeping physicians engaged and allowing them to delegate. When doctors effectively delegate administrative tasks, they have more time to focus on patient care, staying current with the latest research and even taking time off to recharge and refocus.
There are many barriers to keeping physicians engaged–from red tape to traditional tension between doctors and administration. Ultimately, no healthcare organization can achieve its patient outcome and financial goals if it can’t figure out a way keep its physicians focused on building a brighter future–for their patients, their employers and themselves.
Elliot Health System believes that a positive work-life balance helps to boost overall career satisfaction. Consider a career with a healthcare system that cares about their physicians on a personal level.